Valley young man doing his part to prevent bullying with hotlinePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX – Bullying is a big problem across the country.
Statistics show that about 77 percent of students have admitted to being a victim. We show you one Valley young man's struggle and why he wants to help others.
"It started because kids thought I was different and I don't necessarily think it was one thing," Mark Williamson said.
Name-calling and being knocked down was something Williamson faced almost daily when he was in elementary school.
"Every day was kind of a low point for me," Williamson said. "Just waking up in the morning and dreading going to school because I just knew that day I didn't know whether I could be safe or not."
"He would have stomach aches and headaches and not want to go to school," Lori Rubin-Williamson said. She says she knew her son was having issues but didn't realize he feared for his life.
"When you love that child so deeply and that is your initial job when they were born for them to be safe, it just makes you sick, sick that it could last that long," Rubin-Williamson continued.
Williamson was bullied until the 6th grade. He decided to leave public school and get the rest of his education online. While he missed out on the traditional school experience, he believes it was the right thing for him to do.
"I don't know if I would have been worth it to me to sacrifice my safety and well being," Williamson said.
"In general teens that identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, nine out of 10 will be bullied in the school or have been bullied in the school," Nikki Kontz said. "The other aspect is a third of all teens are bullied and a third will be bullied on the internet alone."
Kontz is the clinical director of Teen Lifeline, a 24-hour peer counseling crisis hotline for teens in Arizona. While one in three young people have been threatened online, Kontz said help is just a phone call away.
"There is a place to call and when feeling all alone and no one you can talk to and no one you can tell these secrets to," Kontz said. "Call here and it’s confidential."
As a victim himself, Williamson has been helping other teens struggling with bullies at Teen Lifeline since he was 15 years old.
"The one thing that I wished I would have known back then is there are people out there who are just waiting to talk to you and just waiting to hear your story and help you," Williamson said. "Until today no one ever told a story about me. Just knowing for every case you hear in the news, there's hundreds more you don't hear about and to me that's the real tragedy. "
For more information on how to volunteer at Teen Lifeline go to www.teenlifeline.org/.